In a report dated March 2021, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-ATOC) revealed that the law enforcers were among the major beneficiaries of the industry as they facilitate the movement of the commodity.
“The trade is still thriving despite a total trade ban on the production and sale of Kenyan charcoal, which has been in place across the country since 2018,” the organisation noted in a report dubbed Black Gold; The charcoal grey market in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
Nairobi is reported to be the largest generator of revenue with other towns reporting lower rates of the sale of charcoal.
The law enforcers are reported to be making their loot in the transport phase of the trade with the roadblocks they have set up along the routes.
The cost of bribes is estimated to represent between 20% and 30% of the final retail price in Kenya. This translates to Ksh5.3 billion in bribes per year to law enforcement officers.
Transporting charcoal from Ilbissil, Kajiado county, to Nairobi (a distance of 105 KM along the Namanga Road) costs about KSh200 per bag (for fuel and payment for driver, loader and owner of truck), but bribes to police add an extra Ksh400 to Ksh500 per bag to the cost.
The organisation found that the charcoal-transporting routes were heavily monitored by the officers.
“Between Lunga Lunga and Likoni, a distance of 95 km, there are about 19 roadblocks in an area that is supposed to have just one,” the report revealed
The law enforcers on highways will always claim that the money from bribes ‘belongs to the boss’,i.e. the officer in charge of a police division.
A driver who regularly transports the charcoal disclosed that in the journey from Illbissil town in Southern Kenya to Nairobi, he could encounter at least three roadblocks where he would part with between Ksh3,000 and Ksh5,000
“However, on an unlucky day, you can bump into a Directorate of Criminal Investigations patrol car. Here, be ready to cough up Ksh10,000. It’s just bad luck to meet them,” he stated.
When confiscated, the organisation found that the dealers collude with the police to have the cargo released and resold.